Ans. The Grass is Singing is a novel written by Doris Lessing, published in 1950. The story is set in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), during the 1940s, a time when the country was still under British colonial rule. The novel takes place on a remote farm in the bushveld, far away from the urban centers and the main colonial settlements.
The protagonist of the novel is a white woman named Mary Turner, who is trapped in an unhappy marriage to a white farmer named Dick Turner. The Turners live on a remote farm, which is surrounded by vast stretches of empty land. The setting of the novel is characterized by a sense of isolation and detachment from the world beyond the farm. The Turners’ farm is described as “an island in a sea of grass,” which emphasizes their sense of isolation and confinement.
The natural environment plays an important role in the setting of the novel. The grassy plains and the rugged hills that surround the farm are depicted as harsh and unforgiving, with the heat and dryness of the African sun beating down relentlessly on the landscape. The natural environment is both beautiful and dangerous, with the flora and fauna of the region contributing to the sense of isolation and vulnerability that the characters feel. The landscape is depicted as vast and unyielding, with the people who live there at the mercy of the elements.
The racial and social hierarchies of colonial Southern Rhodesia are also an important part of the setting of the novel. The Turners, as white farmers, occupy a position of privilege and power in the society, while the African workers who work on their farm are depicted as being subservient and oppressed. The novel explores the complex relationships that exist between the white settlers and the indigenous population, with Lessing offering a nuanced portrayal of the tensions and conflicts that arise from these relationships.
The setting of the novel is also characterized by a sense of decay and decline. The Turners’ farm, which was once prosperous and thriving, is now in a state of disrepair, with the buildings and machinery falling apart and the land becoming less fertile. This decline is symbolic of the larger decline of the colonial enterprise in Africa, with the novel offering a critique of the destructive effects of colonialism on both the colonizers and the colonized.
In conclusion, the setting of The Grass is Singing is an essential element of the novel, with the isolation, harshness, and beauty of the natural environment, the racial and social hierarchies of colonial Southern Rhodesia, and the sense of decline and decay all contributing to the overall mood and tone of the story. The novel offers a powerful critique of colonialism, while also exploring the complex relationships that exist between different groups of people in a colonial society.
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